dark moon

a twilight fanfiction.

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22. Chapter 21 Imagination

I was staring out of the window I had climbed in many hours ago. As I gazed into the darkness I saw the familiar thick clouds that constantly overshadowed Forks.
Obstructing my view of the night sky.
Although…there were a few clear spaces allowing me to see the stars lighting up the heavens.
The stars that were present because of the remarkable being sleeping soundly in her bed behind me.
My Bella.
But even the stars held no beauty compared to her.
 
Before I had met Bella I had never admired the sky as I did now. I could only remember it being dim and uninteresting. Bella brought the light, which now shone right through me.
 
I could hear Charlie snoring reassuringly in the next room. He hadn’t been asleep long, and had come to check on Bella several times since her return. Each time I found myself having to duck quickly out of the window to prevent him from seeing me. His fury seemed to have abated now that his daughter was home safe and he believed I had gone. His ferocious mood would no doubt return if he knew of my actual whereabouts and that I had no intention of leaving.
 
I longed to bring back the nights where I held my Bella close.
Watching her sleep.
Listening to the gentle beating of her heart.
Hearing her sweet voice mumble.
Smelling her delicious scent.
 
Now that Charlie was asleep, I could be close to Bella. I needed to feel her in my arms; I knew I didn’t have permission to embrace her, but my need to do so was overwhelmingly desperate. The feeling it brought me was indescribable. It was an irresistible delightful warmth that flowed through my frozen form, clasping around my lifeless heart making it shiver with pleasure, almost as if it was beating.
 
I lay down on the bed to face her and wrapped my arms gently around her. In that moment I was unashamedly joyful, even though I was aware of all the terrible things I had done. I could feel the guilt feasting on me – but it was overpowered because of the presence of my Bella.
She wasn’t a memory.
This wasn’t my imagination.
Bella was real.
 
Bella had been sleeping for a considerable time, and I began to speculate what she was dreaming about.
My question was answered in the form of several incidents of distressed sleep talking from Bella.
Nightmares.
She never actually spoke my name, but I was certain that her comments were directed at me – meaning I was present in her frightening dreams.
            “Don’t go.”
            “It’s too late.”
She had previously screamed aloud, which made me extremely apprehensive but I had no time to act upon it as Charlie had come running in on full alert. I longed to comfort my Bella, and soothe away the bad dreams that I caused.
Being here beside her, I tried to pretend that the last six months hadn’t occurred and enjoy the moment while it lasted; but I could not block out the horrific memories.
The pain.
The suffering.
 
I feared that she would soon awake and instruct me to leave.
I would only depart if she wished me to.
Perhaps I had wounded her so deeply that she could never even consider forgiving me.
I didn’t deserve exoneration – but I was egoistic and going to request it.
I would contentedly get down on my knees and issue a heartfelt entreaty.
Plead for her to absolve my sins.
Beg for her to return my love.
 
I was more convinced than before that Bella had moved on – away from me. I could feel her slipping further from me; more and more with each passing minute. All because of the pain I caused and the danger I brought into her life.
 
Bella had not reciprocated any of my adoration since our reconciliation, although, she had allowed me to touch her, kiss her, embrace her – she hadn’t pushed me away.
She had held on to me in return, but no doubt out of fear; she was distant – there was no love there.
She had moved on, like I had intended her to do.
I had truly lost her.
The one and only thing I desperately loved, and wanted more than anything – I had lost.
 
My body constricted with sorrow and my eyes started to itch as the urge to cry overwhelmed me.
This was the end of life.
I was bonded to Bella in ways I couldn’t even begin to explain.
I belonged with her.
I was created for her.
The only way I could live – go on existing, was if I was with my Bella.
 
Bella’s new acquaintances were certainly a complicating factor. If she could actually consider werewolves as friends. She couldn’t really know them or the fierce unpredictability of their nature. I wondered how the werewolves had returned. My family had believed their breed had become extinct among the Quileute’s when we relocated back to Forks several years ago.
Why were they back now?
And more importantly – why did they have to invade Bella’s life?
I supposed I should be somewhat appreciative for their protective watch over my Bella, but it didn’t diminish the frustration their presence thrust upon me.
I guessed that this was a distinct tribe of werewolves, as Jacob Black was not alive the last time my family encountered the wolves here in Washington State. The information that Jacob Black was a werewolf was a new development which only gave me more reason to dislike the boy. I already held a grudge against him – he had informed Bella that my family were vampires, technically breaking his own tribe’s Treaty. He had also played a significant part in my decision to journey to Italy, and now to emphasize his presence further, he was Bella’s best friend.
 
At least I had a chance of protecting Bella from the werewolves.
However, the wolves were not the only danger looming menacingly over Bella’s life.
The Volturi.
One day in the near future they would come with the sole purpose of confirming Bella’s immortality. If they found her human, they would obliterate her without hesitation or explanation.
Could I accomplish the task Alice had promised to carry out?
As I stared at the face of my beloved, I could not imagine taking away the soft rose blush of her cheeks, her beautiful mahogany eyes, her beating heart, her life and the most precious thing of all – her soul.
I couldn’t do it.
How could this be avoided?
Bella’s horror-struck reaction to the vampires in Volterra proved that she did not want this. I would attempt to keep her safe if she allowed me to.
Vampirism or death?
Was there another option?
 
I was certain that the Volturi wouldn’t come for at least a few years. As their existence was potentially endless, they valued years in the same way as humans valued days and weeks. But they eventually would come, no doubt with Caius dictating the timing of the journey intent on capture or obliteration.  With Demetri by his side, able to track us effortlessly, we would be effectively helpless. I desperately wanted to discover another option to ensure Bella’s life was maintained as soon as Aro had offered us the alternative to death. This was the reason why I so hesitant to let him access my thoughts. If he knew that I planned to search for a way to break the promise, he would have had Bella killed then and there, causing anarchy. Alice had provided me with a get out clause…for now at least.
How could I prolong Bella’s human life?
If Demetri didn’t exist – it would be possible.
When he was sent to locate me in Volterra whilst I was waiting for the decision, he had found me instantly. His vampire talent of tracking was an inborn ability – something I had desired in my quest of tracking Victoria. I swallowed back a growl at the thought of that evil woman stalking my Bella, hell bent on delivering vengeance. She had been near Forks the whole time.
At that moment, I had a startling revelation. My mind raced with the plan that was beginning to form.
Bella’s mind was inaccessible.
Not only to me, but to Aro and Jane additionally.
Therefore, surely Demetri would not be able to track Bella; his ability would not be able to access her mind in order to locate her.
He would have to track myself or one of my family members to discover her location.
The more I thought about it, the more logical it seemed.
My hopes rose somewhat.
There was a possibility that Bella could be protected.
 
All my previous thoughts vanished when Bella breathed in deeply as she started to gain consciousness.
I gently placed my hand on her forehead, hoping she would not be overcome with shock as she realised that she was not alone in her room.
She did not react to my cold touch, but when she opened her eyes and caught sight of me, she gasped.
            “Oh.” She said before covering her face with her hands.
            “Did I frighten you?” I asked warily.
When she didn’t respond, I became anxious; I didn’t want her to be scared.
Did she not want me to be here?
She blinked several times as if she was trying to understand the situation more clearly. The silence was irritating, and only increased my anxiety.
If only I could read her mind.
I watched her intently, attempting to guess her thoughts.
Was she thinking of a way to get me to leave?
Was she reminiscing about her most recent near-death experience?
 
An aggravated expression of comprehension crossed her face.
            “Oh, crap.” Bella suddenly said in a dry voice, tinged with sleepiness.
            “What’s wrong, Bella?”
She scowled with frustration, which amplified my concern.
            “I’m dead, right? I did drown. Crap, crap, crap! This is going to kill Charlie.”
She thought she was dead?
Why?
Was it because I was here – did she think she was in hell?
            “You’re not dead.” I informed her, unable to stop the unhappiness showing on my face in the form of a frown.
            “Then why am I not waking up?”
            “You are awake, Bella.”
She shook her head at me.
            “Sure, sure. That’s what you want me to think. And then it will be worse when I do wake up. If I wake up, which I won’t, because I’m dead. This is awful. Poor Charlie. And Renee and Jake…”
Jealously washed over me as she spoke the last name.
She was worried about the werewolf.
Alice had been right.
 
With effort I forced a counterfeit smile on my face.
            “I can see how you might confuse me with a nightmare. But I can’t imagine what you could have done to wind up in hell. Did you commit many murders while I was away?” I said trying to lighten the overwrought atmosphere.
            “Obviously not. If I was in hell, you wouldn’t be with me.”
I wasn’t sure whether she grimaced at my comment or the fact I was here with her. I sighed at her ambiguous remark.
I was confused as the conversation turned inextricably cryptic. I wanted to be forthright and ask Bella what she wanted – just so she could put me out of my misery, and shatter my hopes.
Did she want me to leave?
Did she want me to stay?
But I couldn’t bring myself to ask her; I was afraid of what her answer might be.
 
It was silent again, whilst Bella collected her thoughts.
How could she believe she was dead?
If she had in fact drowned, then the subsequent turn of events would have been significantly different – I would no longer exist.
An ending similar to Romeo and Juliet.
Did Bella not realise that I could not live without her?
A warm flush of red appeared on her cheeks as her face lit up in a moment of clarity.  I loved to see the blood rush beneath her skin. The thought of blood made my throat burn slightly. I hadn’t hunted for some considerable time, but the fire was not strong enough to bother me at that moment.
 
            “Did all of that really happen, then?” Bella asked.
I longed to tell her that it had all been a dream; a horrible nightmare. That the past six months hadn’t actually occurred, let alone the past three days.
I had to be honest; she had a right to know after all. Her life was at stake.
            “That depends. If you’re referring to us nearly being massacred in Italy, then, yes.”
            “How strange. I really went to Italy. Did you know I’d never been farther east than Albuquerque?” she said seemingly talking mostly to herself.
I rolled my eyes.
She wasn’t terrified by the memory her of her ordeal.
Possibly, because she wasn’t fully awake and therefore not completely aware of the danger the Volturi posed.
            “Maybe you should go back to sleep. You’re not coherent.” I suggested. She still looked tired.
            “I’m not tired anymore. What time is it? How long have I been sleeping?”
            “It’s just after one in the morning. So, about fourteen hours.”
            “Charlie?”
            “Sleeping.” I frowned, as I remembered that I was defying his order to never return to this house. Theoretically, I was trespassing. “You should probably know that I’m breaking all the rules right now. Well, not technically, since he said I was never to walk through his door again, and I came in the window…But, still, the intent was clear.”
            “Charlie banned you from the house?” Bella asked in disbelief, appearing irritated by this information.
            “Did you expect anything else?”
I presumed not, when she did not reply to my question.
            “What’s the story?” She asked instead.
            “What do you mean?”
            “What am I telling Charlie? What’s my excuse for disappearing for…how long was I gone for, anyway?”
            “Just three days. Actually, I was hoping you might have a good explanation. I’ve got nothing.” I answered. Honestly I hadn’t even thought about that. My thoughts had been preoccupied with thoughts of her.
            “Fabulous.” She grunted.
            “Well, maybe Alice will come up with something.” I suggested.
 
            “So, what have you been doing, up until three days ago?”
Her question made me wary. I did not want to tell her how pathetic I had been over the long months of our separation, or explain how much pain I had suffered being away from her – the pain I was still feeling.
            “Nothing terribly exciting.”
            “Of course not.” She pulled a face in what I could only guess was disappointment.
            “Why are you making that face?”
She puckered her lips, speculating.
            “Well…If you are, after all, just a dream, that’s exactly the kind of thing you would say. My imagination must be all used up.”
She didn’t believe she was alive…or awake.
            “If I tell you, will you finally believe that you’re not having a nightmare?” I sighed.
            “Nightmare!” She scoffed scornfully, before continuing.      “Maybe. If you tell me.”
I hesitated. There was nothing that I could tell her without making myself appear somewhat deranged, except –
            “I was…hunting.” I replied regretfully. It had been the only activity that I participated in that wasn’t searching the heavens for those precious but elusive specks of light.
            “Is that the best you can do? That definitely doesn’t prove I’m awake.”
I paused, not wanting to mention Victoria, so I chose my words carefully before I spoke them.
            “I wasn’t hunting for food…I was actually trying my hand at…tracking. I’m not very good at it.”
            “What were you tracking?”
Bella had obviously recovered her powers of observation, and the predominantly inquisitive side of her nature became evident once more. What would she think if I told her who I was tracking?
            “Nothing of consequence.” I replied, trying to withhold my anger at the reminder of my failed attempt.
            “I don’t understand.”
 
Just thinking about the red-headed vampire was causing rage to build up inside me, increasing my tension. I didn’t want to have to admit to Bella that I couldn’t even protect her.
Now was the time to explain, to apologise.
            “I…” I hesitated, taking in a deep breath, forcing air into my body in an attempt to calm me slightly. Bella’s scent flowed through me giving me the courage to continue. Suddenly, the words were swiftly spilling out of my mouth. I was racing to get to my main point – to express my love to her. “I owe you an apology. No, of course I owe you much, much more than that. But you have to know that I had no idea. I didn’t realise the mess I was leaving behind. I thought it was safe for you here. So safe. I had no idea that Victoria…” I growled out her name “- would come back. I’ll admit, when I saw her that one time, I was paying much more attention to James’s thoughts. But I just didn’t see she had this kind of response in her, that she even had such a tie to him. I think I realise why now – she was so sure of him, the thought of him failing had never occurred to her. It was her overconfidence that clouded her feelings about him – that kept me from seeing the depth of them, the bond that was there.  Not that there’s any excuse for what I left you here to face. When I heard what you told Alice - what she saw herself – when I realised that you put yourself in the hands of werewolves, immature, volatile, the worst thing out there besides Victoria herself.” I slowed down slightly, requiring a quick intake of breath. As I said these words out loud to Bella, the guilt inside me became stronger, more distinct, a truly terrible feeling slowly creeping and taking over my body. “Please know that I had no idea of any of this. I feel sick, sick to my core, even now, when I can see and feel you safe in my arms. I am the most miserable excuse for –“
            “Stop.” Bella ordered.
I stared at her unblinking, full of anguish, waiting for her to erupt with fury.
Her face was expressionless, making it hard for me to understand the body language which to I was normally so attuned, since I didn’t have the easy option of being able to read her mind. I could however sense that Bella wanted to end this conversation, divert it into another direction. Had I been mistaken? Did she not want answers from me?
 
            “Edward.” Bella paused, her eyes exhibited nervous determination. The apprehension kept building deep within my chest, as I held my breath until she started speaking again.
            “This has to stop now…”
My heart plummeted.
Hope was lost.
She was going to tell me that she didn’t want me.
I had broken my promise.
I had deceived her.
My actions had torn us both asunder.
Was I stupid enough to believe that she would forgive me over time?
I had hurt her far more than I thought possible; created wounds that had left behind permanent and painful scars.
I just hoped she knew that in spite of everything this world had put us through, everything I had put her through – that I loved her.
And that the love would continuously intensify with each passing day.
This was the end, what I deserved.
A shattered un-beating heart.
I could feel the words coming as I could feel the pain of rejection scorching through my insides.
            “- you can’t think about things that way. You can’t let this…guilt…rule your life. You can’t take responsibility for the things that happen to me here. None of it is your fault; it’s just part of how life is for me.”
She didn’t want me to protect her either – she knew I was a failure.
            “So, if I trip in front of a bus or what ever it is next time, you have to realise that it’s not your job to take the blame. You can’t just go running off to Italy because you feel bad that you didn’t save me. Even if I had jumped off that cliff to die, that would have been my choice, and not your fault. I know it’s your…your nature to shoulder the blame for everything, but you really can’t let that make you go to such extremes! It’s very irresponsible – think of Esme and Carlisle and…” Bella paused to take a deep breath. She looked like she was going to explode, whilst I could not move out of bewilderment and relief.
Bella thought I wanted to die because I was unable to rescue her?
Because I felt guilty?
I knew I was blameworthy, the remorse was devouring me, but that wasn’t the reason why I had longed for death.
 
            “Isabella Marie Swan. Do you believe that I asked the Volturi to kill me because I felt guilty?” I whispered, asking for confirmation of what I understood from her speech.
            “Didn’t you?”
            “Feel guilty? Intensely so. More than you can comprehend.”
            “Then…what are you saying? I don’t understand.”
She was apparently deluded, not realising how much I cared for her, how much I loved her. True, it was my own fault that Bella didn’t believe it. I had to make her aware of that fact.
            “Bella, I went to the Volturi because I thought you were dead. Even if I’d had no hand in your death…” I shuddered at the thought. The pain it had caused me to believe that she was dead was apocalyptic. “Even if it wasn’t my fault, I would have gone to Italy. Obviously, I should have been more careful – I should have spoken to Alice directly, rather than accepting it second-hand from Rosalie. But, really, what was I supposed to think when the boy said Charlie was at the funeral? What are the odds?”
 
If only the boy Jacob hadn’t answered, if he hadn’t been present in Bella’s life, she would have answered the phone. I would have heard her sweet voice that would have undeniably tempted me into coming back.
I could have returned to my Bella.
            “The odds…The odds are always stacked against us. Mistake after mistake, I’ll never criticize Romeo again.” I added.
            “But I still don’t understand. That’s my whole point. So what?”
            “Excuse me?” I asked unsure as to what she was referring to. What did she mean?
            “So what if I was dead?” Bella replied.
I stared at her incredulous at what she was asking me.
            “Don’t you remember anything I told you before?”
            “I remember everything you told me.” She breathed.
I lightly touched her lower lip with my finger, feeling the smoothness of her skin, and trying to remember how her lips felt against mine.
I closed my eyes as I spoke, and wondered how much clearer I could make things.
            “Bella, you seem to be under a misapprehension. I thought I’d explained it clearly before. Bella, I can’t live in a world where you don’t exist.”
            “I am… confused”
            “I’m a good liar, Bella, I have to be.”
Bella’s body tensed rigidly with shock at my comment. I shook her gently, attempting to soothe her strain.
            “Let me finish.” I urged. “I’m a good liar, but still, for you to believe me so quickly. That was excruciating.” I winced as I remembered Bella’s shattered expression on the day of my departure; it had been indestructibly etched into my mind ever since. I continued speaking in a whisper. “When we were in the forest, when I was telling you goodbye – you weren’t letting go. I could see that. I didn’t want to do it – it felt like it would kill me to do it – but I knew that if I couldn’t convince you that I didn’t love you anymore, it would just take you that much longer to get on with your life. I hoped that, if you thought I’d moved on, so would you.”
            “A clean break.” Bella whispered, barely moving her lips, as she continued to stare at me, confounded by what I was saying. I really had diminished all trust she once had in me.
            “Exactly. But I never imagined it would be so easy to do! I thought it would be next to impossible – that you would be so sure of the truth that I would have to lie through my teeth for hours to even plant a seed of doubt in your head. I lied, and I’m so sorry – sorry because I hurt you, sorry because it was a worthless effort. Sorry that I couldn’t protect you from what I am. I lied to save you, and it didn’t work. I’m sorry. But how could you believe me? After the thousands of times I’ve told you I love you, how could you let one word break your faith in me?”
I paused allowing Bella time to respond.
Whether she was angry or just astonished, I couldn’t tell.
My heart was pouring out every emotion Bella had brought to my existence, and bluntly exposing the depth of my love for her. Each sentiment I felt for her, I expressed in speech, hoping she would finally understand. From the very first moment I realised that I was insanely in love with her…I had never felt so much emotion in all my 108 years. And if I had to do it all over again, I would, just to see her face.
When Bella didn’t reply, I continued.
            “I could see it in your eyes, that you honestly believed that I didn’t want you anymore. The most absurd, ridiculous concept – as if there were any way that I could exist without you!”
 
Bella remained still and unresponsive. My anxiety grew, as did my aggravation at not knowing what she was thinking.
I sighed in frustration.
Was she listening to me?
Did she now comprehend how much she meant to me?
            “Bella? Really, what were you thinking!”
She trembled slightly as tears started to flow down her cheeks.
Sadness began to well up in my body; I watched helplessly as each drop slid smoothly down her face. I felt like sobbing with her.
 
            “I knew it. I knew I was dreaming.” Bella cried.
I let out a humourless laugh.
            “You’re impossible. How can I put this so you will believe me? You’re not asleep, and you’re not dead. I’m here and I love you. I have always loved you, and I will always love you. I was thinking of you, seeing your face in my mind, every second I was away. When I told you that I didn’t want you, it was the very blackest kind of blasphemy.”
Bella shook her head, unbelieving as the tears continued to spill from her eyes.
            “You don’t believe me, do you? Why can you believe the lie, but not the truth?”
            “It never made sense for you to love me. I always knew that.” She sniffled.
I had to prove my love to her.
I would show her that she was awake.
I would prove to her that I loved her.
Pleasure flowed through me as I prepared to demonstrate a gesture of my adoration to my Bella.
            “I’ll prove you’re awake.” I said as I took her face in my hands.

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